Report: Blues Under-23s 1 Nottingham Forest Under-23s 0

Six on the bounce for Blues Under-23s.


Blues Under-23s edged out table-topping Nottingham Forest to extend their winning run to six games.

A second-half Adan George penalty was enough to secure the victory as Steve Spooner’s side went toe-to-toe with the league leaders in a high-quality contest in Leamington.

By far the most hard-earned of the campaign, the win was a demonstration of the progress made by the Under-23s since the turn of the year.

Forest played their part with a high-octane, high pressing game which asked questions of the Blues backline throughout.

But Redmond and company, with the help of a few smart stops from Elias Rouse, saw out the game to record an impressive three points.

A lively opening to the game saw Andrews successfully charge down the Forest backline from the kick-off.

With that challenge, the tone was set and a frenetic tempo ensued as the league’s in-form side took the game to the divisional pace setters.

Blues initially adapted to Forest’s high press to put together a series of slick passing moves to move Spooner’s men up the pitch.

A show of strength from Tate Campbell to protect the ball on halfway allowed Blues to fashion the first real goalscoring opportunity of the game.

Campbell found George inside the Forest half and his decisive pass connected with Concannon inside the box. The tricky Blues midfielder checked onto his right foot but saw his shot blocked by what looked to be an outstretched arm – only for referee Andrew Humphries to wave away a chorus of Blues appeals.

The visitors hit back with two chances of their own, both falling to the impressive Gibson-Hammond but neither threatened to break the deadlock.

Red shirts swarmed around the pitch with real intensity and put pressure on the Blues backline high up the pitch.

The pacey Yassine En-Neyah swept the ball out to the right where the visitors worked an overload. Ryan Burke was out numbered, allowing Fin Back to force Rouse into a smart stop low at his near post.

The fast-paced contest continued to ebb and flow to a soundtrack of encouragement both on the pitch and from the dugouts. Blues looked to control the game by building play up the pitch, whilst the visitors looked to break quickly and force errors from their opposite number.

On the stroke of half-time Campbell was upended on the edge of the box by Reds skipper Riley Harbottle, who was only saved from receiving his marching orders by a trio of recovering team mates. Bajrami took the resulting free-kick which deflected off the four man wall, wrongfooting Diallo in the process, and spun agonisingly wide of the post.

It was finely poised going into the break but Blues raced out for the second half and set about dominating the play.

Adan George loitered out on the right and saw his shot blocked by the last-ditch challenge of Sam Sanders. Moments later Tate Campbell saw another penalty appeal waved away after he was blocked off inside the box.

But after two unsuccessful penalty appeals it was a case of third time lucky as Blues finally broke the deadlock from the spot.

Nico Gordon intercepted a loose pass on half way and burst forwards to start a Blues counterattack. Campbell received the ball on the edge of the box, nudged it beyond the defender and raced after his own pass. A sharp turn of acceleration helped him reach the ball before Harbottle who went to ground and brought Campbell tumbling with a clip of the heels.

Adan George approached the ball and after a stuttering run up, calmly slotted his effort low into the bottom corner.

Forest response was a positive one and Blues had to stand strong to repel successive corners and crosses into the box.

Josh Andrews galloped past his man on the hour mark as Blues broke with pace. The powerful forward, on loan with Harrogate Town but eligible to play, nudged the ball beyond his marker and rifled a shot off the trailing legs of Diallo.

Down the other end, En-Neyah held off Bajrami moments later and fired low across goal where Rouse managed to get fingertips on the ball to push it around the post.

The topsy-turvy encounter continued to produce chances for both sides and as the game opened up Blues influence began to grow.

Jack Concannon squared to Oriol Soldevila inside the box with five minutes remaining to present the Spaniard with a golden chance to settle the game.

But the talented wide-man, with time to steady himself and line up his effort, could only whip the ball over the bar, much to the frustration of his teammates.

Blues managed the remaining minutes with real maturity to prevent a twist in the tail of what was a fiercely competitive Under-23s encounter.

Blues: Rouse, Gordon, Redmond, Bajrami (C), Burke, Stirk, Campbell, Concannon, Soldevila, George, Andrews

Substitutes not used: Brooks, Fogarty, Doe Reis, Barratt, Sun

Goals: George.